Demand for IT professionals is on the rise. According to the BBC, “digital jobs” – jobs based around IT – in the UK are increasing in number by as many as 100,000 new roles a year. Within such a buoyant market, there is a clear opportunity for both IT graduates and experienced professionals to develop their careers. But, to be successful, candidates cannot excel in IT skills alone. They need to demonstrate business acumen and a robust skill set that equips them to meet the technical challenges facing modern IT departments.

Start ups and SMEs

At one time, IT was seen as a career choice lacking in glamour and excitement. In recent years, the rapid growth of technology companies like Google and Facebook has made IT trendier. In the UK technology start ups have sprung up around specific hubs, like the so-called “Silicon Roundabout” in Old Street, London.

Dynamic IT graduates and professionals are highly sort after in these fast-growing tech companies, which are perceived to offer an energetic office culture and better opportunities for career than larger institutions. Other benefits such as company equity, not to mention the chance of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg, are also attractive prospects.

Candidates with experience in software and application development are in demand in these companies. But candidates interested in pursuing a career in a technology start-up must be able to exhibit a wide variety of workplace skills, not just IT specific, and display commercial awareness. The day to day working structure can be less formal than in large companies so employers want to know that IT professionals can easily get involved in helping other areas of the business if needed.

We are seeing a similar growth in demand for candidates amongst the wider SME market, not just tech companies. Increasingly, SMEs recognize that IT infrastructure and digital activity are integral to the way businesses work, so similarly want IT professionals who are both technically savvy and business-minded. Candidates who show an understanding of how SMEs need to minimize operating costs in this difficult economic environment are highly sought after.

Demand for cyber security experts

With more and more companies storing and communicating data online and allowing their workers to use their own devices for work, vulnerability to cyber security has become a reality for many employers. High profile cyber security breaches, like the hacking of BBC Weather’s and HMV’s Twitter accounts have encouraged our clients to realise the threat of cyber criminals.

As a result we are seeing an increase in demand for cyber security specialists: consultants, analysts and systems engineers. We’ve seen a 27% increase in the number of roles from 2012-13 yet the number of candidates has fallen by 11%.

At Modis, we recently surveyed over 1,200 office workers in the UK and found that half (51%) of employees with a company smartphone admitted they never consider whether they are compromising company security when they upload or download data to their phone.

This highlights the growing need for clear policies relating to cyber security to be put in place within organisations. IT professionals poised to fulfil the demand for cyber security experts should be prepared to demonstrate not only their technical expertise, but also their ideas for policies that will govern the way employees use devices and safeguard the companies’ data.

Based on the placements Modis has been making this year to date, I predict the demand for generalist IT professionals in tech companies and SMEs and specialist security experts in all organisations is only set to increase. All candidates should think about showcasing the breadth of their commercial knowledge as well as their technical skills, and focus on the unique value they can add to the company to meet success.

Roy Dungworth is the Managing Director of Modis, a specialist IT recruiter and is part of the Adecco Group.